From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
See also: -ebb



From Middle English ebbe, from Old English ebba (ebb, tide), from Proto-West Germanic *abbjā, from Proto-Germanic *abjô, *abjǭ, from Proto-Germanic *ab (off, away), from Proto-Indo-European *apó.

See also West Frisian ebbe, Dutch eb, German Ebbe, Danish ebbe, Old Norse efja (countercurrent), Old English af. More at of, off.


  • enPR: ĕb, IPA(key): /ɛb/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛb


ebb (plural ebbs)

  1. The receding movement of the tide.
    The boats will go out on the ebb.
    • 1824, Mary Shelley, Time:
      Thou shoreless flood which in thy ebb and flow / Claspest the limits of morality!
    • 1902, John Buchan, The Outgoing of the Tide:
      Men come from distant parts to admire the tides of Solway, which race in at flood and retreat at ebb with a greater speed than a horse can follow.
  2. A gradual decline.
    • 1684, Wentworth Dillon, 4th Earl of Roscommon, Essay on Translated Verse:
      Thus all the treasure of our flowing years, / Our ebb of life for ever takes away.
    • 1826, [Mary Shelley], The Last Man. [], volumes (please specify |volume=I to III), London: Henry Colburn, [], →OCLC:
      This reflection thawed my congealing blood, and again the tide of life and love flowed impetuously onward, again to ebb as my busy thoughts changed.
    • 2012, James Howard Kunstler, Too Much Magic, page 74:
      Industrialism hasn’t been an abiding set of activities in any particular place but rather a dynamic cycle, of takeoff, peak, and ebb.
  3. (especially in the phrase 'at a low ebb') A low state; a state of depression.
    • 1695, C[harles] A[lphonse] du Fresnoy, translated by John Dryden, De Arte Graphica. The Art of Painting, [], London: [] J[ohn] Heptinstall for W. Rogers, [], →OCLC:
      Painting was then at its lowest ebb.
    • 2002, Joyce Carol Oates, The New Yorker, 22 & 29 April
      A "lowest ebb" implies something singular and finite, but for many of us, born in the Depression and raised by parents distrustful of fortune, an "ebb" might easily have lasted for years.
    • 2020 July 29, Dr Joseph Brennan, “Railways that reach out over the waves”, in Rail, page 51:
      The 1987 book British Piers was written at a time when Britain's seaside resorts were perhaps at their lowest ebb, with a groundswell of support for rejuvenation and conservation just beginning.
  4. A European bunting, the corn bunting (Emberiza calandra, syns. Emberiza miliaria, Milaria calandra).


Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


ebb (third-person singular simple present ebbs, present participle ebbing, simple past and past participle ebbed)

  1. (intransitive) to flow back or recede
    Synonyms: go out, go down
    The tides ebbed at noon.
  2. (intransitive) to fall away or decline
    The dying man's strength ebbed away.
  3. (intransitive) to fish with stakes and nets that serve to prevent the fish from getting back into the sea with the ebb
  4. (transitive) To cause to flow back.




ebb (comparative ebber, superlative ebbest)

  1. low, shallow

Alternative forms[edit]




From Dutch or German Ebbe.


ebb c

  1. ebb, low tide
    Synonym: lågvatten
    Antonyms: flod, högvatten


Declension of ebb 
Indefinite Definite
Nominative ebb ebben
Genitive ebbs ebbens

See also[edit]